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Black Sheep Finds Holus Bolus Watch Hill Syrah 2008
"Block 2," as it is known is a stand alone planting (monopole) of 1.75 acres of Syrah, clone 383. We helped over see the initial development and planting of this vineyard in 2003 and have worked with grapes every vintage since. It is a steep south-facing hillside with a mix of sandy and rock soils. Harvested in the third week of October, the grapes were fermented with 10% whole clusters. Aged for 22 months in 300 liter French oak barrels. Bottled without filtration.
Peter got his start in winemaking in 2001 at Stolpman Vineyards and was the Assistant Winemaker there until 2006. He is also one of the founding members of Piedrasassi and Holus Bolus wines. During this time he gained experience working with Syrah, Grenache, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Roussanne. After meeting Amy spitting wine over the winery drains in Lompoc in 2004, they founded Black Sheep Finds with the arrival of the 2005 vintage.
Amy's foray into the wine world began with a childhood dream to win an Oscar. While she waited for her golden statue, she worked as a sommelier at one of LA’s finest restaurants. This translated into a weekend jaunt to Santa Barbara where she met her future husband and fellow Black Sheep, Peter Hunken. A whirlwind romance involving a terrible, but cheap, apartment in Koreatown, countless hours of Ryan Adams and Damien Rice songs and bottles upon bottles of Muller Catoir Riesling turned serious. On a long hike in Santa Barbara in 2005, the idea of Black Sheep Finds was bantered about and just a few months later the first Syrah grapes for Hocus Pocus were being made into wine. Unlike the Oscar it all happened so fast.
With a dry and mild climate cooled significantly by moist ocean fog and breezes, Santa Barbara County is a grape-grower’s dream. Part of the larger Central Coast appellation, Santa Barbara is home to Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley. The conditions here provide an opportunity for nearly effortless production of high-quality cool-climate wines. This is also the site of the 2004 film Sideways, which caused Pinot Noir’s popularity to skyrocket and brought new acclaim to the region.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the stars of Santa Barbara, producing wines marked by racy acidity. Crisp Sauvignon Blanc and savory Syrah are also important. The region is home to many young and enthusiastic winemakers eager to experiment with less common varieties including Chenin Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Trousseau Gris, Gamay and Cabernet Franc, making it an exciting area to watch.
Marked by unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah accounts for a good deal of some of the most intense, powerful and age-worthy reds in the world. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah still achieves some of its maximum potential here, especially from Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie.
Syrah also plays an important component in the canonical Southern Rhône blends based on Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, adding color, depth, complexity and structure to the mix. Today these blends have become well-appreciated from key appellations of the New World, namely Australia, California and increasingly, with praise, from Washington.
In the Glass
Syrah typically shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper and even bacon, smoke or black olive. In Australia, where it goes under the name Shiraz, it produces deep, dark, intense and often, jammy reds. While Northern Rhône examples are typically less fruity and more earthy, California appears increasingly capable of either style.
Flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb, grilled meats, spareribs and hard, aged cheeses are perfect with Syrah. Blue cheeses are perfect with a dense and fruit-driven Australian Shiraz.
Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” winemakers throughout the world have adopted this synonym for Syrah when they have produced a plush and fruit forward wine made in the Australian style. As an aside, Australians are also fond of tempering their fruit-forward Shiraz by blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds depth and structure.